27 July 2015 – Dad’s back to work today. Odd not having him around. Piping in with one or another tidbit he’s read online. Mountains on Pluto. The mass recall of cars with hackable on-board computers. Cecil the lion. Batteries to power the home.
He’s a civil servant. Like his old man was. And like his old man he’s practical, sensible. Not generally given to considering the messier issues generated by the world we happen to live in. Nor stricken by striving for experiences broader than the compass and penknife he keeps in his pocket.
For him work is something you do to have a home and a certain amount of flexibility to do as you choose outside the office. He doesn’t think about liking or disliking his job. Or whether or not he’s doing enough to fulfil himself.
He likes the social dynamics of work and the structure it provides. The daily chatter, the weekly routine. From 8-4, five days a week, he knows who he’s going to see and where he needs to be.
The routine, as he lived it, continued after work. He’d drive home, park the car, then walk to the gym for an hour of exercise before heading back home, making and having dinner and getting on with whatever renovation project he had going on around the house.
There were variations and exceptions of course. But in the main his days were active and full. So being a layabout in his own home hasn’t sat well with him.
Until the last month or so he hasn’t been able to do much more than look at the goggle-boxes (TV and computer) and try to find lying/sitting/standing positions that don’t aggravate his hip.
He’s been anxious, fractious, short-tempered. In turns bored and downright blue. He’s considered his own human frailty. Wondered if his body failing him is just the beginning of what he can expect of getting older.
To which I pointed out that he was holding a pair of reading glasses. ‘Snarky devil,’ he said.
Seems he hasn’t lost his sense of humor.
I tell him what he doesn’t want to hear. That he’s in sound health, doing very well for a man in his mid-50’s.
He cringes at the mention of his age and tells me to stop using my x-ray vision on him.
Nor has he lost his playful sarcasm.
Which, from my perspective, suggests he enjoys having someone in the house with him. Not to look after him so much as to just be good company. A companion.
This has weighed on my mind for a long time. The fact that he’s alone in his home. I suspect he would like to share his life again. But it’s not something we talk about. He is after all a man of his generation.
Blue without showing it.
Some doors needn’t be pried. They’ll open at the appropriate time.
That’s about as he’d put it. Mister Roll-with-the-punches.
One of the reasons his recovery has taken so long is that once spring hit he got his annual dose of lawn fever and had to go and get the aerator out of the garage. He got it onto the front lawn alright but went and strained a few muscles trying to start the damn thing.
While having to keep his distance from the lawn was a downer, the thing that seemed to put him in the deepest dumps was not being able to go on early season fishing trips with ‘the boys’.
Ah, the boys…. It’s always amazed me that he and his set of lifelong friends have managed to stay so close after all these years. They grew up together. Started careers and families and bought houses around the same time. Some have gone away and come back. Others have lost what they had and started anew. But they still play on the same same beer league hockey team and get together to watch sports.
And go on fishing trips.
This past weekend Hank and Chuck and Blair were over to finalize details for an upcoming 4-day fishing odyssey in mid-August. Dad was in his glory. Telling stories of his retreat. Hanging with a bunch of old phoneys and getting his yoga on.
He also mentioned seriously considering the purchase of an RV—what he called a retirement villa on wheels.
I teased him by saying maybe it would become a romantic vessel.
The boys got rowdy. Dad raised eyebrows and dimpled a cheek.
He’s back. And as of today the structure of his life, and a large part of his contentment, returns to full-on normal. He was like a kid this morning getting ready for work and preparing his exercise kit for afterwards.
Eager, happy, excited.
I went to the front door with him. He looked over his freshly mown and edged lawn and nodded to himself.
Yup. He’s back alright. You’d never think he was gone.